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Time running out for inept Malaysian squad ahead of Timor Leste clash

Sunday, 29 May 2016 | MYT 9:51 PM

BY ERIC SAMUEL

National coach Datuk Ong Kim Sww (left) has yet to win a match since taking over from Dollah Salleh in January. - Bernama
National coach Datuk Ong Kim Sww (left) has yet to win a match since taking over from Dollah Salleh in January. – Bernama

PETALING JAYA: No wins and no goals.

That is the shocking statistics for the national football team after three matches this season.

Since taking over from Dollah Salleh in January, national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has seen Malaysia lose 2-0 to Saudi Arabia in a World Cup qualifying match in March.

 
 

Malaysia then drew 0-0 with an amateur Macau side in a friendly in Malacca, also in March.

On Saturday, Malaysia were expected to secure their first win of the season against a youthful Myanmar side in Yangon. But the national football team again dished out a listless display to draw 0-0 with Myanmar, who fielded mostly Under-22 players.

Kim Swee’s aim was to test his 24-player squad ahead of the two-match Asian Cup playoffs against Timor Leste. Both matches, on June 2 and June 6, will be played at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Baru.

It’s obvious that Kim Swee’s back is against the wall. He needs to come up with a winning team in less than three days.

To add to his woes, two of his influential players – skipper Safiq Rahim (thigh injury) and speedy winger R. Gopina­than (knee) – are on the crock list. But Kim Swee has put on a brave front.

“I believe we have the capabilities to overcome Timor Leste. I know the fans are agitated with our results. They need to look at the bigger picture and not judge us based on one or two matches,” said Kim Swee in a telephone interview from Yangon.

He said he had selected the best available players for the Myanmar friendly, but the team only had one day of training before leaving for Yangon.

“Time is of the essence. The friendly was necessary to get the players to gel with each other. It takes time to click as a team,” said Kim Swee.

Against Myanmar, Kim Swee put all four of his strikers – Mohd Amri Yahyah, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Mohd Zaquan Adha and S. Kumaahran – to the test. But Malaysia only recorded one shot on target.

After the Timor Leste playoffs, Malaysia will go on a playing tour of Oceania. They will play friendlies against Papua New Guinea (June 17), New Caledonia (June 22) and Fiji (June 26) as part of their preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup from Nov 19-Dec 17.

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